Languages: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Sesotho, Tswana
The new democratic Republic of South Africa headed by Nelson Mandela was not yet one year old when I visited it in march 1995. The black majority had finally been able to vote in free elections for the first time after 350 years of violent oppression by the Dutch, by the British and later by their Afrikaans descendants.
The blacks had control of the government but the whites clearly still had all the wealth and controlled the economy. The 13% white minority garnered 60% of all family incomes leaving 30% for the 75% black majority and 10% for the 12% of coloureds and Asians.
What surprised me most in South Africa was that the 75% black majority was practically invisible. I was puzzled to observe that the towns and cities were overwhelmingly white belying the statistics that claim they are 50% black. I finally understood that mystery when I visited the slum "townships" where the black urban labour force was still being hidden out of view.
It will be interesting to come back in five years to see if the new black government has been able to modify this unequal sharing of the national wealth and to observe weather blacks become more visible in the towns and cities.
|Lonely Planet CIA sf|
Well, I finally completed the long trek from Cairo to Capetown after travelling three months by a variety of means including piggy-back on a bicycle!
Anyone can see that Capetown's famous Table Mountain is indeed flat as a table.
Going up Table Mountain is really worth it for the great view from the top.
Looking north, the city center and port on the left and the long sweep of Table Bay in the background.
Dozens if not hundreds of these furry rodents called dacia live off handouts from tourists like this one. It's no wonder they are so tame.
Here is Table Mountain again as seen from the fort called The Castle built by the Dutch in the 17th century to defend the port from the British who grabbed it anyway at the end of the 19th.
The Dutch heritage is visible everywhere like in this building on Buitengracht street near Strand street downtown.
Capetown has done wonders with its old waterfront area. It has been transformed into a recreational zone with museums, shopping malls, bars, restaurants, fine shops and open areas where street entertainers, like these four, can perform.
People getting off the tour boats do not have far to go to get fed in this large open air quick food and beer cafe.
A short way south from the port, Sea Point provides modern living accommodations and some beaches along the generally rocky shore.
In Capetown, I stayed at the Long Street Backpacker's Hostel located, of course, on Long Street not far from this view.
Capetown has several such places competing on service. Tonight was "Braai" night meaning barbecue night! The room was 6 US$ and the meal 5. I mention prices again to demonstrate that anyone can afford to visit Africa.
In the usual order, two Swedish girls, a German couple, the manager Ian and Nadine, a way out South African girl.
A competing backpacker's hostel called the Tip-Top was throwing an open house party. Most of the Long Street gang went over, including myself of course.
My last night in Capetown was a memorable one!